While it doesn’t happen that often, your catalytic converter does occasionally need replacement. Converters that have not been damaged by polluted exhaust or other issues related to the car’s care and upkeep typically last about 10 years. After that time, they need to be replaced because they lose efficiency quickly. In states with performance requirements, this can be an issue.
Your converter can be damaged by outside forces like collisions with other vehicles or by engine and exhaust issues that cause compounds the converter is not designed to break down to become lodged in it, clogging it before its lifespan is up.
Convertor Becomes Clogged
The converter usually becomes clogged because something is not working correctly in the rest of the engine. This can happen because of contaminants in the fuel from burning oil or other engine fluids, as well as from adulterants in the fuel. Either way, the buildup of compounds the converter cannot break down safely causes the inside to clog, which keeps the exhaust from flowing freely through it and prevents the proper function of your converter.
So, what does a catalytic converter do? It breaks down harmful exhaust fumes into compounds found in the atmosphere naturally like carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. These compounds can be dangerous to people in high concentrations, but they are also present in our everyday environment, and they are harmless in natural concentrations. When it is clogged, toxic fumes that can contribute to air pollution wind up being released into the atmosphere, often in violation of vehicle emissions laws.
Physical damage is also a common cause of malfunction, and it can happen from collisions you do not even know you’ve had. Since the converter is part of the exhaust system, it is typically located on the underside of the car with the muffler and exhaust pipes. Like those components, it can easily be damaged by debris like rocks if you are traveling over rough terrain. It is also frequently damaged in accidents that are large enough to cause repairs to the exhaust system.
Catalytic Converter Theft
Since converters use semi-rare materials in their construction and design, they are sometimes targeted for theft. It is possible to remove the converter from many vehicles without disabling the vehicle or causing immediate suspicion when the car starts. If you notice a change in your exhaust smell or it becomes visible when the car is running, you should check to be sure you still have a functioning converter even if you have no reason to believe there was a mechanical failure.
You can find OEM catalytic converter replacements at great prices from the same store you already trust for your other auto parts orders. If you want, you can even upgrade to an aftermarket converter for better efficiency or higher durability, which can help when it comes to resisting damage from debris on the road. Keep that in mind when deciding on the best choice of converter for your current needs.